Safety Measures Regulations for High-Rise Residential Apartments in India, as per NBC

Kishan Thakkar K


Fires have been erupting with an alarming rate in recent years. In light of more fire outbreaks, it is imperative that real estate developers adhere to the fire norms outlined in the National Building Code (NBC). The following are some rules and regulations stated in NBC to prevent this in high-rise buildings.

In a report on Accidental Deaths and Suicides in India, 2015, fire incidents in commercial buildings increased by 300 percent between 2014 (179 cases) and 2015 (716 cases). The fire rate also rose by 218 percent in government buildings during the same time period; however, residential buildings were found to be more vulnerable to fire outbreaks. The National Building Code 2016 (NBC) stipulates that 42 percent of all deaths in 2016 were due to an accidental fire in residential buildings.

Pritam Chivukula, Co-founder and Director, Tridhatu Realty, avers, “Today, most of the metro cities are growing vertical due to expanding urbanisation and growing demand for housing. It is said that vertical development is the need of the hour and the only way forward, especially in metro cities such as Mumbai and Delhi. However, with increased vertical development, it is also essential to see whether the buildings are fire compliant or not.”

The National Building Code 2016 (NBC)

NBC is a national act that establishes the construction rules in the country vital for the healthy and safe development of buildings. Any developer who does not abide by the rules is likely to be penalized, have a building permit revoked, or have property demolished. 

There are also various provisions in the NBC for regulating and preventing fire in buildings.

In India, buildings are classified into nine categories and regulations pertaining to fire safety are based on the nature and occupancy of the building.

Fire Safety Guidelines

for residential buildings outlined in Part IV of the NBC

Approval process

High-rise structures are considered to be those 15 meters or higher above the ground and must obtain a certificate of approval from the Director of Fire Force or an officer authorized by him before construction is begun.

Building plans submitted to authorities should detail all fire protection measures and escape routes for the proposed building, along with appropriate signs and symbols. The same should be duly signed and certified by a licensed fire consultant/architect.

Staircase rules

Buildings with more than 150 square meters of floor space and a capacity of 20 occupants should have two staircases per floor for quick evacuation in case of a fire.

Fire-fighting measures

The buildings should be equipped with static water storage systems at a rate of 1,000 liters per minute. Automatic sprinklers should also be installed in basements where vehicles are parked or where storage is at least 200 meters.

There should be diesel generators in every building exceeding 25 meters in height that can be used in case of power failure to suppress fires.

Lift norms

In addition to the normal lifts used by the residents, high-rise buildings should include special fire lifts for fire men only, which should operate at a higher speed than the regular elevators. Ideally, it should be possible for the firefighters to travel from the ground floor to the top level in one minute.

Click here for detailed and official guidelines, National Building Code Part 4 – Fire and Life safety


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